When someone thinks of a toilet, he always imagines it with a cistern full of water. And connected to the pipes that end up in the sewer system. Although to many of you this seems normal and everyday, unfortunately it is not universal. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 2.3 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. But all those people still turn food into waste. And that waste has to go somewhere. Most end up on the ground or, even worse, in the water. This causes the rapid spread of dangerous diseases such as cholera and dysentery.
Access to basic sanitation, as well as access to drinking water, food and education, are among the main problems of the third world for which a solution is sought. Many scientists from around the world in collaboration with NGOs and foundations are investigating how to improve these situation in poor countries.
One of the personalities most involved in these investigations is Bill Gates. I think he needs no introduction, as he is the founder of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world. In addition, together with his wife, they created the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Which has invested 200 million dollars to improve sanitation throughout the world.
Bill Gates in the Toilet Expo, Beijing
On November 6, 2018, Bill Gates gave an interview at Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, China, a conference where inventors and organizations showed avant-garde bathroom technologies. The most important fact is to create something that can kill bacteria and literally save lives. Gates wanted to convey a message of how dangerous a poor sanitation is.
And during his speech, he raised a vial of human feces. And all to show how many toxic bacteria are present even in a small amount of human waste. The bottle, he said, could contain up to 200 billion rotavirus, 20 billion Shigella bacteria and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs. I think the message was among the attendees.
Although the speeches were very interesting, the real stars of Reinvented Toilet Expo were the 20 bathrooms of the future that were exhibited. And these designs really were something special. Since they do not need a connection to the water or sewer lines. In other words, they can be used anywhere and at any time. Especially in communities that do not have that type of infrastructure. Gates is a fan of technological advances and places this new technology among the most significant advances in sanitation of the last 200 years.
How does Nano Membrane work?
One of the most amazing toilets in the Reinvented Toilet Expo was the Nano Membrane Toilet. I’ll show you how it works.
- After a person goes to the toilet, they close the lid. That sets in motion a series of gears, which throw waste into a holding tank at the bottom of the toilet, but without the need for water or electricity.
- As the mechanism separates the trash, a thin blade scrapes the container to clean it. A spiral device lifts only the solid parts of the debris out of the holding tank, cutting them into small pellets and then introducing them into a small combustion chamber.
- That is where the waste is burned, and all the bacteria and any other unpleasant thing that exists just die.
- The user has to clean the ashtray once a week.
Liquids are processed through very thin nanofibers and converted into non-potable water, but can be used to irrigate plants or crops. It also has a compartment to remove unpleasant smells. The Nano membrane is being tested in Ghana, where organizers try to get people used to public restrooms. Then, over time, they expect manufacturing costs to go down enough to allow widespread use in normal houses.